Showing up for an audition
I previously talked about Are nerves getting in the way of you winning an audition. I discussed what nerves look and feel like and how they impact performance. Today I want to talk about how to ‘show up’ for an audition.
How do you want to show up for an audition? Well you show up with your instrument ready to go, right? You’ve practiced the pieces and are prepared to step into the hall ready to play, right? When I talk to musician’s about how to show up for an audition, I assume you are physically prepared (musician’s go above and beyond to prepare) but what I am looking for and which rarely happens, are you mentally prepared? Musician’s show up having physically practiced, expecting their head to show up and follow along with wherever their body wants to do. Guess what? It’s generally the opposite. Our mind tells our body what to do and if you show up expecting your mind to go along for the ride, you had better think again!
You need to ‘show up’ for an audition prepared not only physically but mentally. When I ask, how do you show up for an audition what I really want to know is how you are feeling and what you are thinking; are you in the right mental state to perform. How do you know what this state is? Take a moment to think back to some of your better auditions or even performances. What was happening right before? I’ll bet you were pretty relaxed and centered. There probably were not a lot of negative thoughts, producing more negative thoughts, rapid heart rate and muscle tension. Now your job is to figure out how to get yourself in that state before every audition. You do not have to show up and play from whatever space you are in. Just as you have control over your physical ability, you can learn to have control over your mental abilities. Once you pinpoint the space you need to be in to play optimally, how do you get yourself there? For example, if you show up for auditions feeling anxious, how do you get yourself in a more relaxed and centered space? Many of my musician’s have adopted doing a little bit of meditation before an audition. With practice, meditation (or something like it) helps get you relaxed and centered and also helps keep those nasty negative thoughts at bay. One of my classical musician’s was not too sure about meditation (it’s not the sit and focus on nothing kind) but he tried it and it worked so well that he wanted to use it more often.
The thoughts you are thinking before an audition carry into your audition and impact your ability play. For example, if you are thinking that there’s no way you are going to win this audition, you carry that into your audition and it shows up in chipped notes, starts aren’t clean and not being able to play the high notes. Once carried into your audition the thought doesn’t just go away. They build and lead to more mistakes. If you walk into an audition thinking, I’ve got this, I am excited or I am going to play my music the way I know I can, you will play from that positive intention. I know you put a lot of time and energy into practicing for an audition, wouldn’t you like to learn how to show up in a way that gives you an optimal chance of playing at your best?
Here’s a fact: nerves exist! Nerves are a way of telling the body that something important is about to happen. It’s not the fact that they exist that makes them troublesome, it’s how you deal with them that makes them problematic. Mental skills are all learned behaviors and are vitally important to plan for so you show up in an optimal space. This also allows your physical and mental skills to work together to get the job done. Your brain should never just go along for the ride.